Incident Report Software >> Incident Management System Guide
Published 05/05/2023

2024 Guide for an Incident Management System

Incident management is among the fundamental processes of an organization. In this guide, we have discussed the basics of incident management, its components, the benefits of having one in place, types of incident report forms, and how using incident management software can streamline the entire process.

What is an incident?

An incident is simply an occurrence that interrupts the continuity of the organizational operations affecting anything from a single employee to the entire organization. On the other hand, incident management is the process employed by a particular organization to respond to unplanned events or interruptions to restore the normal operational state.

What's the purpose of incident management?

The primary purpose of incident management practices is to reduce the destructive impact of incidents through the immediate restoration of normal service operations. The scope of managing incidents in the workplace usually begins with an individual reporting an occurrence and ends with the response team taking the necessary action to resolve the issue.

Incident management consists of the identification, analysis, and addressing of disruptions in an organization. After an occurrence, an organization focuses on deploying an incident management team that provides immediate solutions to the events that may cause complete or partial disruption of the organization's operational activities.

The incident management workflow is composed of these best practices:
- Preparation and planning. With early preparation and planning ahead, an organization can detect potential problems before resulting in incidents. Although it's a bit difficult to prepare for all incidents, organizations that generally focus on industry-specific threats are better positioned to identify potential occurrences.
- Communication. Good communication encourages a positive collaboration between all the stakeholders in the organization. This enhances the immediate addressing of incidents in real-time whenever they occur. Having every employee, staff, contractor, or even visitor aware of the communication of incidents in the workplace is vital as poor communication often leads to significant incidents running out of control.
- Reporting; It's worth saying that how an organization reports incidents play a significant role in its long-term incident management strategy. Reporting protocols and processes usually empower all the stakeholders to learn from the previous occurrences and improve analysis, evaluation, and decision making in incident management to reduce the costs of the process.

Early detection, response, communication, and resolving any incident as fast as possible is critical to sound incident management systems. You need to know that incident management typically focuses on how an unplanned occurrence is handled, unlike problem management, which aims to address the problem in the future.

The process of incident management

With the proper incident management system in place, the collection of information concerning incidents is usually a streamlined and less chaotic process. The service desk team ensures that all the necessary and relevant information is captured right at the time of incident occurrence.

A common incident management process can be carried out as follows:

1. Reporting or notification
The first step to take after an incident has occurred is to declare it. It's the notification stage when all the preliminary information is submitted to management. This can be done by an employee or any other individual who has seen the occurrence. This information should include the location, date, time, title, incident type, and a brief description of what occurred.
2. Incident investigation
In this step, all the causes and circumstances that led to the incident are listed down. It's the fact-identification stage conducted by professionals who can analyze problematic occurrences. A report is generated after an investigation that outlines the root cause analysis, explains facts surrounding the event, preventive measures to rectify dangerous situations, and recommendations.
3. Analysis of the incident
It's also known as root cause analysis, which is essential in identifying the necessary corrective actions to be taken. This process aims to answer the questions: what happened? Why did it happen? How did it happen? And what needs to be corrected? The incident analysis unveils a collection of failures that led to the occurrence, such as preconditions, immediate causes, latent failures, etc.
4. Corrective actions
After completing the investigations and analysis of facts, conclusions can now be drawn from the causes of the incident. Corrective actions and preventive measures are then implemented to avoid similar occurrences in the future. The incident management team should identify and plan areas that require the corrective actions, priorities, schedule, and effectiveness of the preventive measures to be implemented.
5. Final review
This review is for determining whether the incident report is complete and whether it can be closed. Those who conduct the review usually look at every stage of the process keenly to approve it or request further actions. Comments are encouraged during approval or rejection, and they should be appropriately recorded.

The process of incident management can be complicated or straightforward based on the type of incident that has occurred. Incident management is a cycle, and also, having continuous incident management usually provides a foundation for a strong safety culture.

Types of incident report forms

Incident report forms are tools that document occurrences that may or may not have resulted in injuries to the organization's individuals or damages to property. They are used to capture accidents, injuries, near misses, equipment and property damage, security breaches, health and safety issues, and also misconduct in the workplace.

Incident report forms include:
- Accident injury incident report forms. They are used to record accidents that have caused harm to employees and any other person on the worksite. Accidents can be prevented from happening again by discovering the root cause of the incident.
- Near miss incident report forms; These incident report forms document a situation where the individual involved didn't sustain any injuries but could have been potentially injured by the detected risks.
- Fire incident report forms. They are used to notify the organization stakeholders on fire-related incidents such as vehicle and building fires, alarm activation, premises evacuation, obstructed exits, and accidental fire notifications.
- Property damage incident report form. In the workplace, property damage report forms are used to record details of unusual property damage that occur in the entire organization. It includes pictures of the property involved, where the incident has occurred, date and time, description of the incident, etc.
- Safety observation incident report forms. They can be used to document situations about safety in the workplace. They can be positive reports or negative ones that lead to improvements in the existing procedures or processes or prevent a severe incident.
- Vehicle incident report forms. They record damages, accidents, issues with drivers or passengers, and everything to do with the organization's vehicles.
- Contractor incident report forms. These forms document incidents involving contractors and subcontractors. Organizations are encouraged to implement digital means for contractors to report incidents in the worksite.

Incident reports can be used in the investigation and analysis of occurrences. They can be used by authorities to create reports of incidents, employees to report incidents they have witnessed, and any member of the organization to create awareness of an incident that has occurred in the workplace. No matter how minor an injury is, an incident report should be completed at the time of the incident occurrence.

Here are the advantages of having an incident management system in place:
- Increases knowledge on the reliability of equipment
- Enhances better monitoring and the interpretation ability of reports, which helps in the identification of incidents before they occur
- Boosts certainty in staff and employees that the logged incidents will be appropriately addressed and not forgotten
- Incident management systems reduce the impact of a particular incident on the organization
- Helps staff gain confidence that a given process exists to keep the services offered by the organization working

Generally, incident management tends to cover all aspects of incidents across their life cycle. It usually speeds up the resolution processes and ensures transparency in the management of the occurrence. It can be a hassle handling incidents without an effective incident management system.

Failure to enable contractors, employees, and visitors to report incidents in the workplace results in:
- Lack of proper records of past occurrences and inability to document solutions for a repeat of similar incidents
- Stretched resolution periods
- Lack of or very less coordinated management information
- It results in incorrectly handled or poorly managed, or forgotten incidents
- Disruption in the entire organizational workflow as people seek advice from their colleagues
- Likelihood of the incident impact on to other areas and unnecessary severity of incidents may occur

Any organization that desires to understand its technical requirements should focus on implementing an incident management system. This facilitates the channeling of all incidents through a service desk, which is a single point of contact so that the response team can follow up for a quick resolution.

Using software to streamline incident management

Incidents tend to happen, and they will always do, but automating the incident management process helps detect and solve issues more efficiently. Mobile applications are perfect for advancing every facet of incident management communication in your organization. They usually update incidents in real-time and ensures accuracy during incident reporting.

For instance, automation makes it simple to file incident reports as fast as possible, allows data sharing with the health and safety personnel that need to act quickly, and enables data analysis for preventive measures and more significant insights.

The standard features of incident management software include:
- Real-time reporting
- Configurable forms
- Real-time notifications and monitoring
- Response dashboards
- Automatic and priority alerts

When it comes to incident management tools, there's no single one-size-fits-all software. The best performing incident management teams use multiple tools, effective practices, and individuals. Some software might be very specific to incident management, while others might be general-purpose software that allows the incident team to utilize them for other tasks. However, the ideal incident management software is adaptable, open, and reliable.

Regardless of the industry, complexity, or size of your organization, the need for a functional incident management system remains the same. Occurrences happen in the workplace and cost an organization thousands of dollars due to downtime. Incident management is one of the essential disciplines when it comes to ensuring the organizational services provide the desired value to customers. So, make sure to have a system, tools, and team that understands incidents and able to fully contain and resolve an occurrence in a very short period.

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